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Hardcover | Out of Print | 480 pp. | 6 x 9 in | December 1990 | ISBN: 9780262132589
Paperback | $50.00 Short | £41.95 | 480 pp. | 6 x 9 in | January 1993 | ISBN: 9780262631471
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Inventing Accuracy

A Historical Sociology of Nuclear Missile Guidance


Donald MacKenzie follows one line of technology—strategic ballistic missile guidance through a succession of weapons systems to reveal the workings of a world that is neither awesome nor unstoppable. He uncovers the parameters, the pressures, and the politics that make up the complex social construction of an equally complex technology.

About the Author

Donald MacKenzie is Professor of Sociology (Personal Chair) at the University of Edinburgh. His books include Inventing Accuracy (1990), Knowing Machines (1996), and Mechanizing Proof (2001), all published by the MIT Press. Portions of An Engine, not a Camera won the Viviana A. Zelizer Prize in economic sociology from the American Sociological Association.


Inventing Accuracy is a brilliant achievement that will, if we are fortunate, change widespread misunderstandings about technological innovation. The strength of this book lies not only in its extremely clear and nuanced theoretical statements, but also in its rich historical narrative. This book should be of great interest to a diverse audience. It also provides a creative, if extremely demanding, model for future scholarship on technology and national security.”—Lynn Eden, Survival
“This is a great piece of sociology and a great book.... gripping, superbly researched, fair, sympathetic, and ultimately, hopeful.”—Steven Shapin, American Journal of Sociology


“"MacKenzie's study challenges conventional models of technical determinism of the race in sophisticated weaponry and replaces it with a carefully drawn model of the social formation of technical change. The detailed empirical examination and sociological framework set a new standard for the historical and social study of technology."”
Everett Mendelsohn, Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University
“"Meticulous research and acute analysis are here combined in an exceptionally readable text. Inventing Accuracy is going to be a paradigm for studies in the history and sociology of technology for years to come."”
Ruth Schwartz Cowan, Professor of History, State University of New York at Stony Brook


Winner of the 1993 Ludwik Fleck Prize presented by the Society for Social Studies of Science (4S)., 1993